If you were to make a list of the top fighting game players of the Street Figher IV era, it would be hard not to include Evil Geniuses’ Yusuke Momochi. After making a name for himself in Street Fighter IV by using Cody at high-level events early on, the Japanese competitor would go on to win a number of prestigious events, including (but definitely not limited to) Capcom Cup 2014 and Evo 2015.
One would naturally assume that, with Street Fighter V coming out, Momochi’s main concern would be with learn the new game’s system and characters in preparation for another year of competition, but he and his new wife Yuko “ChocoBlanka” Kusauchi have much loftier goals for 2016.
Just a month before Capcom Cup 2015, Momochi and Choco established Shinobism, a company devoted to nurturing up and coming fighting game players. “We want to take a standpoint close to players,” Choco explained to Tokyo Otaku Mode. “Something close to players, but not a maker nor a corporation. We want to become a presence that can nicely connect many different relations.”
“[W]e want to train champions at our company,” Momochi continued. “We want to teach young people ourselves and create members affiliated with Shinobism. Later on, other pro teams might seek us out to talk about transfers. However, Shinobism’s vision is to create a starting point for young people first.”
Although competitive gaming has become much more lucrative in recent years, it’s still less than stable for players looking to the future, and that uncertainty also played a part in Shinobism’s creation. Momochi and Choco see it as a second career of sorts, something to fall back on when they can no longer compete, but they also want to make sure newcomers understand that the occupation isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
“There are still difficult aspects [to being a professional gamer], and while on the one hand I welcome those who feel inspired and come to us with the feeling that being a pro gamer is a wonderful occupation where you game every day, and when you win, you get admiration and prize money, but on the other hand, I also think that gaming every day isn’t all fun,” Momochi said. “I also know the happiness of winning, the pain of loss, the state of being unrecognized by society, and the uncertainty of the future. What that means is I can teach the youth not just the good side, but the hard aspects, as well.”
With legends like Mad Catz’ Daigo Umehara heading into their 30s, the pair see Shinobism as an opportunity to cultivate a brand new group of competitors that can rise up and defeat those that came before them. In this way, they hope to introduce younger fans to the joy of fighting games and keep the genre alive.
“We want to give birth to the star player who will bear the next generation of fighting games,” Choco concluded.
Be sure to follow the link below for more of Tokyo Otaku Mode’s conversation with Momochi and Choco.